The Miami Marlins are offering a number of relievers at the trade deadline, and one of the team's two most available relievers is veteran right-hander Chad Qualls. Qualls made the roster during spring training on a minor-league contract, as the Fish were looking at a number of relievers to potentially fill their roster. Qualls happened to pitch well enough to make the team, but that made him an immediate midseason trade candidate, as the team has no interest in retaining one-year flyers on relievers.
Much like Ryan Webb, Qualls is a flawed player who might still have a market because teams need bullpen depth and could use a passable middle relief option.
The Marlins have Qualls on the trading block primarily because he was a one-year player for the team. The club signed him to a minor-league contract in order to fill out bullpen depth, and he happened to make the roster. But as a veteran on a one-year contract, he was never likely to return to the Marlins next season. The team is simply trying to extract further resources from a decent turn of events.
The market on Qualls is very similar to the market associated with Ryan Webb. Webb has been linked to teams like the Detroit Tigers because those clubs need bullpen depth, not necessarily just closers. Qualls is long removed from his closer days, but against right-handers, he can at least provide one passable inning per outing.
The issue with Qualls is the potential that teams have previously seen his performance. Since 2010, Qualls has been on six different teams, and only one (the San Diego Padres) would have a positive impression of his work. In that time, he has been more or less terrible, posting a 5.24 ERA since then. If the Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, or Philadelphia Phillies needed a reliever (and three of those four teams are competing for a playoff spot this season), they would definitely not look Qualls's way.
Qualls has a poor track record over the last three years that undermines his passable performance this season. That alone makes him a less attractive bullpen acquisition. Neither he nor Webb, for example, would be able to pull Zack Cox at the trade deadline like Edward Mujica did last season.
But even in Qualls's better season in 2013, cracks are apparent. He has pumped up his strikeout rates back up to his career norms, but he has still allowed too many home runs for a pitcher who gets 60-plus percent ground ball rates. His FIP of 4.04 shows that he is likely to be closer to a mediocre middle relief guy than anyone you could trust in the eighth or ninth inning like his 3.06 ERA suggests.
All of those combine to give Qualls only a mediocre value among trading teams. Just like with Webb, the Marlins cannot expect much from Qualls in return, given that he has only half a season left and is mostly a well-known commodity. While a team can still dream on the 27-year-old Webb figuring out his velocity again and learning how to pitch, Qualls is pretty much getting by with all of the tricks of the trade. His one advantage over Webb is that he can pitch to both sides equally, as he has almost identical FIP and wOBA against versus both righties and lefties. Outside of that, you can expect a similar menial return for a player of Qualls's caliber.